TikTok Ad Scams: Insufficient Moderation Leaves “For You” Page Filled with Dubious Apps, Products and Services
With various organizations vying to buy separate entities of TikTok, research Satnam Narang, Staff Research Engineer at Tenable, a Cyber Exposure company, reveals some of the challenges a new owner might face in moderating activity on the popular video sharing app. Satnam’s research shows that TikTok’s popular ‘#ForYou’ page has become a habitat for scammers peddling fake mobile applications, diet pills, drop-shipped goods, fake gift cards and more.
- Easy money offers which claim to help users earn money by downloading applications that are either deceitful or questionable in nature. These advertisements promote fake apps, lure users into potential pyramid schemes, request personally identifiable information and, in some cases, encourage users to install mobile device management tools that make it easy to take over users’ devices.
- “Free” offers that come with a price, such as free diet pills ads. These use fake celebrity endorsements and news articles to dupe users into providing credit card details in exchange for “free” goods, subjecting unsuspecting users to recurring subscription fees.
- Dropshipping schemes that promote questionable or extremely overpriced goods offered by dropshipping. While dropshipping itself isn’t necessarily a scam, these offers are problematic when they involve price gouging, counterfeit or questionable goods, or duping buyers into paying for goods they never receive.
- Dodgy credit and tuition assistance offers prey on those in dire financial straits by promising to repair credit card history or promoting online classes as a way to access financial aid. In many cases, these ads are merely a ruse to entice users to pay for bogus services or share their personally identifiable information.